Two local studios are offering free Latin dance lessons and entertainment to help bring people to downtown Kitchener and uptown Waterloo. TenC Dance Co. hosts DTK Latin Heat in Carl Zehr Square on Wednesday evenings, and The Underdog Dance Corp. presents Salsa in the Square on Thursday evenings in Waterloo Town Square.   

The two events are free and include a dance lesson at 7 p.m. to help newcomers learn the basic steps before joining the evening.  

DTK Latin Heat is a new event at the recently renovated Carl Zehr Square, but TenC Dance Co. owners Miguel Bril and Hayley Lively are no strangers to teaching dance downtown. Their studio is at 329 King St. E., and they hosted an outdoor dance series at the Kitchener Market last summer. Bril said last year’s events caught the attention of staff at city hall.  

“We wanted to relaunch at the market, but a few people who work for the city enjoyed what we were doing, and they proposed we move it to city hall,” Bril said.  

Bril and Lively opened their studio in 2022 after teaching at different locations across the region, including Hepcat Swing in Waterloo. The pair started teaching dance in 2014 while working in South Korea before returning to Kitchener in 2016. Bril said they see potential downtown and want to help bring more people to the core.  

“People we knew were always going to Toronto to dance, but we always believed in Waterloo Region’s potential as a big center for dance. That’s why we also opened our studio here, seeing, seeing that potential,” Bril said.  

DTK Latin Heat offers a mix of music and dance styles, including bachata and salsa. Bril said that bachata, salsa and other Latin musical styles attract a wide variety of community members.  

“We find that Latin music reaches out across a wide spectrum of communities that find it entertaining, especially bachata. It has grown in the last decade, and there are a lot of musicians making bachata music now,” Bril said.  

Connecting the community through dance is also the motivation for Emily Peat, owner of The Underdog Dance Corp. located at 71 King St. N. in uptown Waterloo. This is the second year of its Salsa in the Square event series, which features a free Salsa lesson followed by live Latin music and dancing.   

The Underdog Dance Corp. opened its doors in September 2020, where Peat hosted free Salsa nights on Thursday evenings. She said the events were popular and started to outgrow the studio’s space.   

“We thought, ‘why not take it outside and make it accessible to everyone?’. We started running the free seven o’clock dance class in the square. It started relatively small, but by the end of last summer, we were up to a couple of hundred people at night—and those are the numbers we’re seeing this year. It’s pretty cool,” said Peat.  

Like DTK Latin Heat, Salsa in the Square attracts people from a wide variety of communities to Waterloo Town Square. Peat said the free lessons have been a great way to make the series accessible.  

“The craving for connection is universal. Dance gives you a way to physically connect with other people and put your phone away for the time you’re there,” Peat said.  

Kitchener resident Elaine Decleir is a regular at both events and takes classes at The Underdog Dance Corp. She said the events are great ways to meet new people and get active after a day at work.  

‘You meet so many new people and they are welcoming environments. I think everyone should try it. People are always worried that they can’t dance, but I think anyone can dance, and you can have fun trying something new,” Declair said.  

Visit tencdanceco.com and underdogdance.com to learn more about the schools and the free dance events. 


Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He's behind the TL;WR newsletter–Waterloo Region's weekly events newsletter. He's worked with some of Canada's most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.